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Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Alaska Alaska Governor Names 11 Stakeholders to 15-Member ByCatch Task Force by Peggy Parker - January 10, 2022 Last Friday Governor Mike Dunleavy announced the names of 11 industry stakeholders to serve on his Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force, established by administrative order last November. Their mission is to explore the issue of bycatch and provide “recommendations to policymakers with the goal of improving the health and sustainability of Alaska’s fisheries.” Dunleavy’s administrative order was announced a year before his first term ends and nearly three months after he declared his candidacy for a second term. It was met with cautious optimism by many who have been involved in bycatch issues at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council for decades. The Council sets bycatch — unintentional harvest and mortality of species not targeted by fishermen — caps at levels that in the early days of the Bering Sea trawl fisheries, rarely if ever shut down a ground fish fishery. In 2010, the Council adopted Amendment 91, which combined a limit on Chinook salmon in the Bering Sea pollock fishery with incentive plan agreements and performance standards. The program was designed to minimize bycatch to the extent practicable in all years, and prevent bycatch from reaching the limit in most years, while providing the pollock fleet with the flexibility to harvest the total allowable catch. NOAA Fisheries implemented this program for the 2011 BSAI pollock fishery. In 2016, Amendment 110 was another improvement that created a comprehensive salmon bycatch avoidance program. Again the twin goals were to minimize Chinook and chum salmon bycatch while maintaining the potential for the full harvest of the pollock total allowable catch (TAC), all within the bycatch caps. These efforts were made as Chinook salmon returning to Alaska's Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers were declining steadily. The Council also began working closely with the flatfish fleet in the Bering Sea and Aleutians (BSAI) in 2015 to lower the halibut bycatch cap. That effort culminated in last month's Council decision to drop the halibut cap by 25% and adopt a formula that ties the cap to abundance of halibut in the Bering Sea. The Council has recently addressed monitored and unmonitored crab bycatch as a result of recent research and requests from the crab industry. Bycatch in Alaska is one of the most complex issues facing fisheries managers because it requires a full understanding of both targeted and non-targeted animals. More than any other group, the Council has addressed the issue across multiple species and a broad range of habitat. But the Governor’s Alaska Bycatch Task Force brings something different to the debate. Dunleavy’s appointees include five Alaskans with extensive participation in the Council process, but also Alaskans whose constituencies are impacted by bycatch but who work in areas far removed from the Council. “Bycatch has remained a contentious issue of concern of all Alaskans,” Dunleavy said. “The 11 Alaskans who stepped forward to serve on the Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force represent key stakeholder groups and are recognized for not only their knowledge of fisheries, but their commitment to sustaining the resource for generations of Alaskans to come.” The 11 appointees will join the commissioners of the Department of Fish and Game and the Department of Commerce, currently held by Doug Vincent-Lang and Julie Anderson. The remaining two members, who will not have voting power, will be selected by state legislators. The members are: • John Jensen (chair), of Petersburg, who serves on the Board of Fisheries, and has a background in commercial fishing. Jensen has over a half century of experience in Alaska’s commercial fishing industry. He is serving his seventh term on the Alaska Board of Fisheries and was appointed to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council in 2018. • Tommy Sheridan (vice-chair) of Cordova, a fisheries consultant who will hold the task force’s public seat. Sheridan has served as ADF&G fisheries biologist in charge of the Prince William Sound seine fishery from 2010-2016, fleet manager and director of government affairs for Silver Bay Seafoods, and is currently owner of Sheridan Consulting in Cordova. He holds the public member seat on the task force, is the owner of Cordova-based Sheridan Consulting, and sits on the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission. • Brian Gabriel, the current mayor of Kenai, has served since 2016 and previously held a seat on the city council for six years. • Linda Kozak, of Kodiak, who fills the seat reserved for halibut fishers. Kozak runs a fisheries consulting service and also serves on the board of United Fishermen of Alaska. • Raymond May, who runs a commercial salmon fishing boat out of Kodiak and is a council member for the Native Village of Port Lions. He fills the salmon fisherman seat. • Erik Velsko, who holds a seat reserved for crab fishermen and has commercially fished a number of different stocks around the state. He has worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska since 1997 and is a member of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council Advisory Panel. • Mike Flores, who runs a sportfishing business out of Ninilchik and owns and operates a sport fishing charter business there since 1994. He is also a board member on the State of Alaska’s Big Game Commercial Services Board. • Stephanie Madsen, of Juneau, who heads up the At-Sea Processors Association. Madsen served as Chair of the NPFMC for several years and has extensive knowledge of the Council, the groundfish fishery in the Bering Sea, and the pollock fleet. In an op-ed about bycatch recently, Madsen wrote: "Our fleet goes to great lengths to target pollock and avoid other marine life. As a result of these efforts, more than 98% of what our vessels catch is pollock. Since 2010, we have had chinook salmon caps that, if exceeded, would shut the fishery down. "That cap is lowered when Western Alaska returns are low. We have developed innovative methods for reducing incidental catch of salmon, including underwater cameras, salmon lights and salmon excluders. We have reduced our incidental catch of chinook by 89% since 2010. "Salmon encountered by our fleet are retained and sampled by federal scientists. As a result, we know that a majority of chum salmon we catch originate from hatcheries outside the United States. Given these facts, it is not surprising that the science clearly shows that incidental salmon catch by our fleet is not a cause of the devastating reductions in some salmon returns that we have seen this year." • Ragnar Alstrom, head of the Yukon Delta Development Association, who occupies the Community Development Quota seat. Alstrom and YDDA have partnered with NOAA Fisheries, ADF&G and local fishermen from the villages of Emmonak and Alakanuk to identify nine permanent sampling stations on the three main lower Yukon distributaries. The work began in 2014. Each summer, local fishermen and NOAA Fisheries biologists set and retrieve salmon sampling nets, identify and count the catch, and measure water temperature and depth. They send salmon samples to the NOAA Fisheries Auke Bay Laboratories where their diet and body condition are analyzed. “We want to be a part of figuring out why our Chinook aren’t returning. Instead of standing by and waiting for someone else to figure it out, we want to be engaged in the science,” Alstrom said in a NOAA Fisheries publication. • Kevin Delany, a former director of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s sportfish division and is listed as a consultant for the Kenai River Sportfishing Association. • Duncan Fields of Kodiak, who owns a consulting firm and fills a spot on the task force reserved for Alaska Natives. He has advocated for lower bycatch rates during his nine-year tenure on the Council and been a supporter of coastal communities and fishing ports throughout Alaska. The panel has until November 20, 2022 to produce the report, and are expected to meet monthly in the interim. Environment/Science New research on magnetite in salmon noses illuminates understanding of sensory mechanisms enabling magnetic perception across life Oregon State - January 10, 2022 NEWPORT, Ore. – It’s widely understood that animals such as salmon, butterflies and birds have an innate magnetic sense, allowing them to use the Earth’s magnetic field for navigation to places such as feeding and breeding grounds. Strategic Science Plan Released for Alaska Fisheries Science Center The FY2023–FY2027 Strategic Science Plan outlines the Alaska Fisheries Science Center’s overarching goals and objectives for the next 5 five years. NOAA Fisheries - January 7, 2022 Alaska's arctic and sub-arctic fisheries are among the most productive, sustainable, and profitable in the world, providing millions of people with healthy protein domestically and internationally. They are also home or a critical summer feeding ground for a number of whale populations like the endangered North Pacific right whale and the Cook Inlet beluga whale. FYI’s Board of Fish Southeast meeting moved to Anchorage in March KFSK by Joe Viechnicki - January 11, 2022 The Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting that was planned for this month in Ketchikan will be held in Anchorage instead in March. The decision is a loss for Ketchikan’s winter economy and is leaving some feeling cut out of the decision-making process. Pacific Seafood Processors Association 1900 W Emerson Place Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98119 Phone: 206.281.1667 E-mail:; Website: Our office days/hours are Monday-Friday 8:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. *Inclusion of a news article, report, or other document in this email does not imply PSPA support or endorsement of the information or opinion expressed in the document.


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